Drunk with Powder
This is an interesting essay (transcript of a lecture) by Richard Muller. It examines the old "Calvin v. Calvinism" issues. I thought this paragraph, though, was particularly interesting:
1. The Problem of TULIP. By way of addressing these issues, we should note
first and foremost the problem of TULIP itself — an acrostic that has caused much trouble for the Reformed tradition and has contributed greatly to the confusion about Calvin and Calvinism. (I don’t plan to tiptoe through this issue.) It is really quite odd and a-historical to associate a particular document written in the Netherlands in 1618-19 with the whole of Calvinism and then to reduce its meaning to TULIP. Many of you here know that the word is actually “tulp.” “Tulip” isn’t Dutch — sometimes I wonder whether Arminius was just trying to correct someone’s spelling when he was accused of omitting that “i” for irresistible grace. More seriously, there is no historical association between the acrostic TULIP and the Canons of Dort. As far as we know, both the acrostic and the phrase “five points of Calvinism” are of Anglo-American origin and do not date back before the nineteenth century. It is remarkable how quickly bad ideas catch on. When, therefore, the question of Calvin’s relationship to Calvinism is reduced to this popular floral meditation — did Calvin teach TULIP? — any answer will be grounded on a misrepresentation. Calvin himself, certainly never thought of this model, but neither did later so-called Calvinists. Or, to make the point in another way, Calvin and his fellow Reformers held to doctrines that stand in clear continuity
with the Canons of Dort, but neither Calvin nor his fellow Reformers, nor the
authors of the Canons, would have reduced their confessional position to TULIP.